For those who thinks NBA rivalries have dissipated since the 1990s, either you aren’t paying enough attention to the NBA or you’re oblivious to the rivalry that has brewed in the Western Conference these last few years. Yes, the rivalry I speak of is the Los Angeles Clippers – Memphis Grizzlies.
And it seems this rivalry has greatly impacted how the Clippers are viewed in the South. According to a poll held by a Reddit user (42,000 partook in the poll) tracking the most hated team across the 50 states and amidst the Miami Heat hate in the southern region, the Los Angeles Clippers appeared in Mississippi and Tennessee–two teams who strongly support the Grizzlies.
These two teams have virtually beat each other senseless the last five or so years. Since the 2009-10 season a.k.a they year Zach Randolph was traded to the Grizzlies in order to make way for Blake Griffin as the power forward of the future, the Clippers and Grizzlies have played a total of 31 games against each other, playoffs included, and in that span, the Clippers have a one-game edge over Memphis at 16 to 15.
It’s been an amazing rivalry that has bled into the playoffs. In 2012, the Clippers pulled off the improbably Game 1 comeback from down 22 points, eventually winning the series in a testy Game 7 on the Grizzlies floor. In 2013, the Grizzlies re-paid the favor, but in a different fashion, winning four straight games after the Clippers won the first two of the series.
Last season, the two teams escaped each other in the playoffs, but if this map is any indication, the rivalry is still alive and well. Zach Randolph still loves to match up against Blake Griffin. Tony Allen going up against Chris Paul is still must-see television. If the past has shown us anything, the upcoming season will continue another three or four games of two teams played their most hated opponent.
And we’re patiently waiting on it.